City Champ travel info
Getting to Free Gold Watch
Within San Francisco, the 43, 6, 33, and 7 MUNI bus lines all have stops within walking distance of Free Gold Watch. The same goes for the N-Judah train. Either the Carl & Cole or Carl & Stanyan stops are your best bet. BART and Caltrain are your friends for travelling from farther outside the city.
You can track arrival/departure times at NextMuni.com. Routesy is also super handy for figuring this out, plus the transit stops nearest to your location: Routesy.
If you want a little more control over your arrival time, use Uber or Lyft, and to a lesser extent local taxis. Taxis can also be hailed with the Flywheel and Yellow Cab app.
Ride-sharing services are preferable late at night, but beware of surge pricing.[object Object]>
Parking in the Upper Haight is harder than the Gem shot in Tron. Sure, you can do it, but as many will testify, you can’t do it every time. Try to avoid driving, or be prepared to walk after you’ve parked elsewhere.
If you absolutely must drive, here are some parking options:
The ABC Parking Lot on Stanyan
No, it won’t be cheap, but it’s cheaper than a couple of parking tickets. At last visit it was about $20 for 24-hours, but the price may have gone up recently. Which brings us to option #2:
There’s metered and free parking in the neighborhood around Free Gold Watch, but both are limited to about two hours. (Metered parking runs about $4.50 per two hours.)
Either way, every couple of hours you’ll need to set a Creature from the Black Lagoon smartphone reminder to MOVE! YOUR! CAR!
If you do find a spot on the street, make sure:
- The curb isn’t painted red, blue, or green.
- There isn’t a fire hydrant.
- You’re not blocking someone’s driveway, not even by a foot. (Driveway owners will call to have you towed, which is expensive.)
Before you disregard any of these warning, please consult the SFMTA ala carte “pricing menu”.
Also, look for signs posted on poles near the curbs, as they’ll tell you the street cleaning days/rules/limits. In general, be very suspicious of abundant, free parking.
Special Bonus Parking Warnings:
Do not park in the Whole Foods parking lot. They will tow you.
Do not leave anything in your car, no matter how marginal you believe the value to be. This includes things like your garage door opener, if you have one. Vehicle break-ins are common right now in SF, and in the Upper Haight in particular.
No discount rates available, but we do have a couple of recommendations, however, primarily because they are relatively close to Free Gold Watch. (There are also AirBnB and VRBO options below.)
Stanyan Park Hotel
750 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Stanyan Park is so close to Free Gold Watch that if you listen hard enough you might be able to hear Twilight Zone multiball kick off from your room. A boutique hotel with 36 rooms, the Stanyan Park is on the smaller side and quite popular, so consider booking ASAP if you like that “bed to pinball in 3-minutes” amenity.
The Metro Hotel
319 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 USA
The Metro isn’t very close to Free Gold Watch (maybe a 20 minute walk), but it is right next to the bus line which runs down Haight Street. It’s also close to a ton of some of the most amazing restaurants on Divisadero Street, the border between the Upper and Lower Haight. It’s also not too far from Molotov’s bar, a regular haunt for drinking teams with a pinball problem (2 machines). There are only 24 rooms at the Metro, so if this sounds good to you, book now.
There’s a pretty good selection of places to stay near Free Gold Watch on AirBnB. Savvy ballers might want to pool their quarters by reserving a place with room for more than a couple. Below is a link to AirBnB listings in the 94117 zip code.
The grandpa to the AirBnB model was VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner), and it might have listings which you won’t find on AirBnB, too. Below are links for Cole Valley (the neighborhood next to the Upper Haight)
This is the closest independent coffee joint, on Stanyan. Pour overs take three to four minutes, so if you’re in a hurry, grab an iced coffee straight-up or on nitro tap. (Also carries pastries, bottled juices, and snacks.)
If you’re coming down Haight Street towards Stanyan, Stanza is a choice spot. Small selection of pastries, good coffee. Marie, the barista, is an avid pinball player to boot!
Whole Foods has a coffee bar, but it also has a selection of cold coffees in the refrigerated case near the checkout lines. Excellent spot for Stumptown bottles and Blue Bottle cartons.
Bars are everywhere on Haight St., as are a few bodega-style shops. Kezar Pub on Stanyan is practically connected to Free Gold Watch, and Murio’s Tap Room is just across the way on Haight Street. Most SFPD members will buy beer at Whole Foods or at Parkview Market on Frederick at Stanyan.
The food options below are listed in order of their proximity to Free Gold Watch. Where applicable you’ll also find some recommended menu choices. Once again, you can see these all on a map together here: http://www.mapcustomizer.com/map/ChowForSilverBallers
Some places on this list will let you order ahead via OrderAhead or GrubHub.
Pub food and serious international sports hangout. The wings here are good.
Home-style Puerto Rican food. The mofongo is outstanding, but if you want a full belly on the cheap, go with a side of arroz amarillo and a side of habichuelas coloradas.
Aside from the obvious (it’s a grocery store), there are prepared foods here, a salad bar, pizza, burritos, etc.
They have a few savory items here, but mostly it’s pastries, breads, and small cakes. The blueberry crumble cake is a go-to, plus the bread pudding.
The Citrus Club
Noodle dishes inspired by Vietnam, China, Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia. The garlic beef with shiitake mushrooms is enormous (especially if you take it to the next level by adding shrimp).
Tony’s Slice House on Haight
Tony’s Slice House is currently the pizza-of-choice for SFPD League Nights. They’ve got the best pizza crust and offer a tasty selection of slices, as well as full pies. The menu also includes sides, burgers, and sandwiches.
Escape from NY Pizza
Quick and affordable choice for pizza in the neighborhood. Go with a to-go slice or two on paper plates from the XL thin-crust pies on display and get in and out for about ten to fifteen bucks.
Stanza Coffee Shop
Not the first choice you might go for food, but if you’re on your way back from Street Taco on Haight, it’s a good stop for an espresso and possibly a muffin, cookie, or other coffee shop sweet.
A newcomer to the Haight, Street Taco gets multiple votes from SFPD ballers. Two tacos for $8 and anything with al pastor are top choices here. Fast and simple.
Burgermeister on Carl
Burgers of size. Are you surprised? But the not-so-secret find here is the cheesesteak. The chicken version’s pretty good, too. This place is right off the N-Judah train stop at Carl & Cole.
Upscale Mexican food with a solid cocktail bar attached. This is mostly a dinner place, though the pro move is to grab brunch which runs Friday through Sunday. You might want to get a reservation for dinner, though if you show up on the early side you can usually score some of their walk-in seating at the communal table or bar. (We know you know guac is extra, but get it as a starter. It’s a ton of guac.)
French bistro and brunch cuisine. This place gets mobbed for brunch, so unless you go early, be prepared to wait. The good news is you can put your name on the list and let them know you’re next door at Finnegan’s Bar… where there’s also pinball.
Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery
Seasonal pub cooking, but this is no house of fried cheese sticks. Quality stuff. The main attraction is the brewery, though. More of a sit down place, so don’t think you’re going to dash out and make it back before your next round starts.
This is a bit of a walk from Free Gold Watch, but is ground zero for excessive baconry. What started as a food truck now has this brick-and-mortar cafe which was famously featured on Saturday Night Live when a local bacon-hater complained about the constant bacon smell. Opens early, closes early-isn (3PM). Not the top of the list for vegetarians, obviously.